Nora's Patriarchy

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A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, is a play about a Victorian housewife, Nora Helmer, who rediscovers her role as a woman in her household, liberating herself from an oppressing patriarchy. Subtle details such as the contrast in her talk with male characters before and after the dance party, the Apollonian characteristics and actions, as well as the clothes Nora wears in the three acts come to show how Nora disguises her masculine, independent features under her feminine and loyal outer shell. This representation then comes to show Nora’s revelation of how she can break free of the conventions of the patriarchal structure of her household and to become someone she defines herself as, instead of the loyal wife the patriarchal society defines…show more content…
An explicit example will be how Nora, apart from doing embroidery, sewing and other stereotypically female exclusive work, she does copying work, which is a male exclusive job in the time period. Nora demonstrates her masculinity by being able to do male-exclusive work to show that, even as a woman, she is not inferior to the other men doing the same job. Moreover, the Apollonian characteristics of logic and collectiveness are reflected within Nora as well. Nora calculates her “31 hours to live” (Ibsen 51) with a clear mathematical procedure—by adding the number of hours up, which was not common for Victorian women, as they rarely interact with science and math, and that these subjects are male-exclusive as well. In this situation, Nora is collective as well—she was calm about her remaining hours instead of being overwhelmed by negative emotions concerning death. Nora’s ability to use simple math and being calm about her fate brings out her masculinity, which in turn shows how Nora breaks free of the conventional Victorian label that women only duty is to raise children and do housework, and that she is capable of performing male-exclusive work alongside with female-exclusive…show more content…
Nora’s Italian dress appears to be exquisite to Torvald, which made him call her his “little Capri girl” (Ibsen 67), infantilizing Nora as well as reifying her by saying “she’s worth looking” (Ibsen 67). Even though the dress is chosen by Torvald and shows how Nora is made feminine under the male gaze, this dress can be read as a costume to reinforce Nora’s power instead of the mere surface Torvald envisions. During the time when Torvald was sick and the household moved to Italy, Nora was the one who covered all the expenses that will be used on curing her husband’s illness—she loaned money and did work that are strictly for men, such as copywriting. Not only did she support him financially, she also took physical care of Torvald; she was always by his side. During the stay in Italy, Nora’s role was a man’s role, to support the family financially and physically. The Italian dress reminds her of the power she used to have, which makes Nora consider the option in wanting the power back. After the party, as she changes back to her everyday clothes, she stated, “I’ve changed” (Ibsen 79), meaning that not only did she changed back to her usual attire, but also she has come back as a woman ready to
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